DNA Databank Oversight Panel
Minutes of the Meeting of December 14, 2010
The meeting convened at 9:35 a.m. In attendance were: Lynn Wittenbrink, Office of the Attorney General; Dawn Hellier, Department of Public Safety (DPS); Kenneth Zercie, DPS, Division of Scientific Services; Dr. Michael Bourke, DPS, Division of Scientific Services, Dr. Carll Ladd, DPS, Division of Scientific Services; Joe Biella, DPS, SOR/DNA Unit; Wanda White-Lewis, Department of Correction (DOC); George Camp, DOC; Lynn Milling, DOC; Michael Aiello, Judicial Department, Court Support Services Division (CSSD); and Judith Rossi, Division of Criminal Justice, Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.
Acceptance of Minutes: The minutes of the September 14, 20120 meeting were accepted as amended. It was agreed that, in future, the minutes will be circulated by the Chair prior to the meeting date.
Public Comment: Attorney Karen Goodrow stated that the federal DNA grant for the Innocence Project has been extended through the end of 2011 but with no new funding; however, the state may re-apply.
Implementation of Public Act 03-242:
Report of the Forensic Lab: To date, 80,000 offender samples have been accepted. There are 3550 backlogged samples, up 500 since the last Panel meeting in September. Some of the backlog is for non-suspect burglaries. The statute of limitations will run out on many of these by 2013. But at present, the backlogged cases are by necessity of low priority, given that there are not enough staff to process present needs.
Ken Zercie, Michael Bourke and Carll Ladd provided details of the present funding crisis at the Forensic Lab, which will lose 14 staff (mostly from the DNA section) who are employed with "soft" funds, by the end of July 2011. The staff shortage will also affect the firearms and fingerprint processing sections of the Lab. The Panel members agreed to seek their agencies’ support for a funding appeal if DPS makes one to the new administration.
There have been 1610 confirmed "hits" to date - up by 47 since the Panel last met in September.
Report of CSP: The responsibility for the collection of samples has successfully been transferred to CSSD. However, the state police are still taking samples from individuals in lock-ups in certain G.A. courthouses.
There is still a high number of no-shows - 3200 - for misdemeanor crimes that are/will soon be past the statute of limitations. Reminder letters are being sent.
Report of DOC: As noted at the last meeting, DOC has cleared its backlog except for 422 inmates who are refusing to give samples. The cases of the two inmates who have been arrested and charged with failure to provide a DNA sample are still pending in Hartford. Both have January continuance dates.
Since beginning the process in April of obtaining samples upon intake at DOC facilities, that agency has had a 100% compliance rate.
Report of CSSD: To date, CSSD has collected 22,000 samples averaging around 150 per month. November had over 200 collections. Another collection site will open in Stamford this week, and will be doing collections twice a month.
As of October 1st, CSSD began collecting samples on CSP’s conditional and unconditional discharge cases, about 44 per month.
All notice and warning letters are being sent out on schedule.
The question of 2d DUI offenses is still in limbo awaiting the decision in McCoy v. Boyle, and CSSD is not collecting them at present. Query whether to wait for the McCoy decision, or seek legislation to designate the offense as subject to DNA collection.
Executive Session: At 10:12 a.m., upon motion and second, the meeting went into executive session. At 10:55 a.m. the meeting came out of executive session. As a result of action taken in that session, the following occurred:
- 12/14/10A – purged, youthful offender (DOC)
- 12/14/10B – purged non-felony offense (DOC)
- 12/14/10C – purged, youthful offender (CSSD)
Staff of the Forensic Lab attended a presentation by "LODIS," a private DNA lab, to the South Central Police Chiefs (which includes 35 police departments). LODIS is proposing to process DNA requests in property crime cases (as noted above, it’s a backlogged area for the Forensic Lab). The Chiefs seemed interested because the up-front cost is attractive and could be met with their discretionary funding from federal grant monies.
Next Meeting Date, Place and Time: The next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for Tuesday March 8, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. at the Forensic Lab in Meriden.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 a.m.